This month we will return to discussions of nutrient requirement for horses. Remember we discussed energy needs for horses in the earlier articles: Equine Energy Requirements, Energy for Work, and Broodmares and Babies. Now we will look more closely at other nutrient requirements, beginning with mineral requirements. Minerals are involved in a variety of functions in the body, including enzymes, structural components, energy transfer and acid base balance. Minerals are also incorporated into vitamins, amino acids, and hormones.
Last month we took a more in depth look at the calcium requirements for horses. This month we will look at phosphorous needs in the horse, and then put it all together in formulating some diets for horses.
Selenium is an often talked about micro mineral which has much confusion over its requirements. Certainly those in the nutrition field don’t make it any easier by listing the requirements in concentrations in the diet, where all other minerals are simply listed as the amount the animal should consume per day.
Last month we discussed the function of electrolytes and some special disorders of horses related to these minerals. This month we will look at how much of these minerals your feed usually supplies, and determine how much electrolytes you may need to try and supplement to your horse.
This month we will discuss two important trace minerals, copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn). We will discuss them together, as they are most commonly discussed in relation to developmental orthopedic diseases in young horses. First of all, copper and zinc are classified as trace minerals because they are required in far less quantities compared to Ca, P, Na, Cl etc. While the minerals we previously discussed were described in terms of percentages of the diet, or in grams, trace minerals are only required in mg per day.
This month we continue on our path of discussing minerals required by horses. We will actually be mixing a macro-mineral (magnesium) and trace mineral (iron) together. However, our goal has been to visit minerals in the order of their level of concern by the horse owner and their frequency of need for supplementation.
This month we wrap up our discussion of minerals required by horses with a random mix of macro and micro-minerals. We will focus on sulfur, manganese, cobalt and chromium. What these minerals share in common is that they are typically in adequate supply in the average horse’s diet. However, they still warrant attention and understanding as they are vital for the health of the horse. Next month, we will start a new series on protein.
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